189.The Chairperson thanked Turkey for the coffee provided, and was happy to note that the Committee was ahead of schedule, hoping that the good progress would continue. The Chairperson informed the Committee that the Bureau had met in the morning to organize the Committee’s work. It was noted that agenda items 13.d and 9 had already been completed, and that the Committee would begin the day’s session with items 9.a, 9.b and 9.c, which would be followed with agenda items 13.b, 13.e, 13.f, 13.h and 13.j. Wednesday and Thursday morning would be dedicated to the evaluation of nominations to the Representative List, as many people travelled specifically for this session. Item 5.a also had to be completed. It was noted that the revised schedule was published on the Convention website, and was adjusted as necessary. The Chairperson then moved to agenda item 9.a and the examination of nominations to the Urgent Safeguarding List. As noted in document 9.a+Add.2, four nominations had been withdrawn by Croatia, Ethiopia, Honduras and Pakistan, resulting in four files for examination. Before commencing the examination, the Chairperson outlined the five criteria U.1–U.5, which were projected onto the screen. He then invited the Chairperson of the Consultative Body, Mr Egil Bakka, to present the Body’s findings.
190.The Chairperson of the Consultative Body presented the first nomination on Kun Lbokkator [draft decision 9.COM 9.a.1] submitted by Cambodia. Photographs were displayed on the screen. The term ‘Kun’ describes the martial art of fighting, leaping and confronting opponents, while ‘Lbokkator’ refers to all combat techniques involving the half-kneeling position. The technique developed over time into a performing art or traditional leisure game, practised during traditional festivities including the Khmer New Year. At present, Kun Lbokkator faces several threats to its continued practice: many masters are now very aged, and there are no regular teaching programmes or learning materials to facilitate transmission. The Consultative Body faced considerable difficulty in the evaluation of the file and found that none of the five criteria were satisfied. Some of the difficulty was attributed to the fact that information was often placed in an inappropriate section of the form. Hence, paragraph 9 of the draft decision invited the Committee to draw the State’s attention to its previous Decision 7.COM 20.2 on this question. The Body found that overall too much emphasis was placed on providing historical information on the element without providing a clear description of its cultural meaning and social function today (U.1). In focusing primarily on the past meaning and function, the nomination did not allow the Body to understand how the practice and its meaning had transformed over time. From the information provided, the Body could not tell who the bearers were, and how Kun Lbokkator was transmitted, or who might recognize it as constituting part of their intangible cultural heritage. As U.1 had a direct impact on U.2, the criterion did not demonstrate that the practice was in need of urgent safeguarding. The Body learnt from the file that most masters were aged and young people did not wish to invest the necessary time to acquire the practice, but the nomination lacked basic information on the frequency of the practice and the transmission of the element that would ascertain its present state of viability.
191.The Chairperson of the Consultative Body explained that the proposed safeguarding measures (U.3) were largely top-down. For example, it was stated that teams from the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts would visit the communities to ‘present the historical and cultural aspects of the element to the inhabitants’. In addition, no timetable and allocation of resources were provided for the implementation of the safeguarding measures. With little evidence of the active participation of the community in the design and implementation of the safeguarding plan and the inventorying process, the Body was unconvinced of their wide and active participation in the nomination process, except as providers of information (U.4). An association that was otherwise not mentioned in the file provided the only consent. In addition, although Kun Lbokkator appeared to be included in an inventory (U.5), the Body did not find any information to demonstrate that it had been drawn up with the participation of communities concerned or would be regularly updated. The Body could not therefore recommend the inscription of Kun Lbokkator on the Urgent Safeguarding List. In paragraph 5 of the draft decision, the Body reiterated the need for the community to be widely involved in the inventorying process and in the elaboration of the nomination, and paragraph 8 similarly called for their involvement in inventorying. Paragraph 6 emphasized the need for more information on the element’s current condition and its meaning for its practitioners, and paragraph 7 asked that the safeguarding measures be based upon a clear view of the threats facing the element and be so designed to respond to those threats.
192.The Chairperson moved to the adoption of the decision on a paragraph-by-paragraph basis. With no comments or objections, the Chairperson declared Decision 9.COM 9.a.1 not to inscribe Kun Lbokkatoron the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding adopted. With the absence of Cambodia, and the withdrawal of the nomination files by Croatia, Ethiopia and Honduras, the nomination file by Kenya was presented.
193. The Chairperson of the Consultative Body presented the second nomination on Isukuti dance of Isukha and Idakho communities of Western Kenya [draft decision 9.COM 9.a.5] submitted by Kenya. The Isukuti dance is a traditional celebratory performance practised among the Isukha and Idakho communities of Western Kenya. It takes the form of a fast-paced, energetic and passionate dance accompanied by drumming and singing. An integral tool for cultural transmission and harmonious coexistence between families and communities, it permeates most occasions and stages in life. Transmission of Isukuti dance is presently weakening, however, and frequency of performance is diminishing. Many bearers are elderly and lack successors, and many audiences prefer contemporary entertainment to traditional Isukuti dances. The Chairperson reported that this was the second time the Body viewed this nomination, as it was first submitted in 2012, having been withdrawn following an unfavourable recommendation. On this occasion, however, the Body congratulated the State and was pleased that all the criteria had been satisfied. In particular, the Body was happy to note a demonstration of the active participation of the concerned communities in the entire process (U.4). It also commended the social use of Isukuti dance, which goes beyond being a recreational medium for cultural transmission to uniting the Isukha and Idahko communities and promoting harmonious balance among them (U.1). The proposed safeguarding measures (U.3) geared at building awareness, addressed the issue of transmission to the younger generation and replenished nurseries of indigenous trees needed for drum production, responding well to the identified threats (U.2). Finally, Isukuti dance was included in Kenya’s national inventory (U.5). The Body therefore recommended that Isukuti dance of Isukha and Idakho communities of Western Kenya be inscribed on the Urgent Safeguarding List. The draft decision proposed to commend the State for resubmitting the nomination of an element that promoted mutual respect and cultural diversity in collaboration with the communities (paragraphs 4 and 5). In paragraph 6, the Body highlighted the need for a right balance among the safeguarding measures, ensuring that the communities are central in their implementation.
194.The Chairperson thanked the Consultative Body for its summary, adding that the successful experience of Kenya to revise and resubmit its file encouraged States whose applications would not be accepted in the current cycle. The Chairperson then moved to the adoption of the decision on a paragraph-by-paragraph basis. With no comments or objections, the Chairperson declared adopted Decision 9.COM 9.a.5 to inscribe Isukuti dance of Isukha and Idakho communities of Western Kenyaon the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding.
195.Thanking the Chairperson for the opportunity to address the delegates, the delegation of Kenya began by congratulating the Secretariat for its excellent work and for the efficient preparation of the meeting. It further extended its sincere gratitude to the Consultative Body for its coherent and meticulous work that underscored its professionalism in their evaluation of the nomination files, and for favourably recommending the inscription of Isukuti dance of Isukha and Idakho communities of Western Kenya on the Urgent Safeguarding List. It was delighted in joining the Isukha and Idakho communities to express gratitude that this traditional celebratory performance was recognized at the international level, which was a clear testimony of the rigorous work of the State Party, the county government, and the concerned communities. The dance is an integral tool for cultural transmission and harmonious co-existence between families and communities, as it permeates most occasions and stages in the life-cycle of the concerned communities, including child birth, initiations, weddings, funerals, commemorations, inaugurations, religious festivities, sporting events and other public congregations. However, transmission of Isukuti dance was presently weakened and the frequency of performance was diminishing. Many bearers were elderly and lacked successors. Inscription would therefore provide a strong incentive to the communities concerned to continue practising the element so as to pass on the knowledge to the next generation. The delegation would work tirelessly to ensure that other files are submitted in subsequent cycles, and it reiterated its commitment to safeguarding intangible cultural heritage and, in particular, the Isukuti dance of Isukha and Idakho communities of Western Kenya by ensuring the wildest possible participation of the communities concerned in the implementation of the safeguarding measures proposed.
[Isukuti performance by dance troop]
196.Thanking Kenya, the Chairperson noted the withdrawal of the file by Pakistan and thus proceeded with the file submitted by Uganda.
197.The Chairperson of the Consultative Body presented the nomination on Male-child cleansing ceremony of the Lango of central northern Uganda [draft decision 9.COM 9.a.7] submitted by Uganda. The male-child cleansing ceremony, performed among the Lango people of central northern Uganda, is a healing ritual for a male child believed to have lost his manhood. The child and mother remain in the house for three days, and then undergo a series of rituals involving the family to cleanse the child, promote reconciliation and restore his social status. Many bearers of the ritual are aged, however, and the practice is increasingly performed in secrecy for fear of excommunication. During the evaluation, the Consultative Body considered that all criteria were satisfied. The Body recognized the important role of the cleansing ceremony in restoring the manhood of male children and maintaining the social cohesion and continuity of the Lango people (U.1). Its relevance to their well-being is further demonstrated by the wide support and consent given to the nomination process (U.4). The Body also noted that in the face of grave threats to its viability, such as the few and aged bearers and the secrecy in which the practice is carried out (U.2), the need for the full and active participation of the community in the implementation of proposed safeguarding measures is ever more crucial (U.3). The ceremony is included in the inventory of the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development. The Body remarked that this nomination had helped open its eyes to the importance of intangible cultural heritage for sustainable development, in this case, for the building of strong families and communities. The Body therefore recommended that Male-child cleansing ceremony of the Lango of central northern Uganda be inscribed on the Urgent Safeguarding List. The draft decision acknowledged the efforts of the State in safeguarding this element and further encouraged it to ensure the full and active participation of the community in the process (paragraphs 4 and 5). The final paragraph encouraged the State to mobilize the necessary funding and urged relevant bodies to implement the safeguarding plan.
198.The Chairperson moved to the adoption of the decision on a paragraph-by-paragraph basis, and pronounced paragraphs 1–4 adopted.
199.The delegation of Belgium wished to make a small adjustment in paragraph 5 by replacing ‘community’ with its plural form to include ‘communities, groups, and if applicable, individuals’ in the implementation of the proposed safeguarding measures to allow for debate in those communities on whether or not they agree, and especially to ensure that prior and informed consent was also provided, for example, by the children so that they could also express their opinion.
200.The Chairperson noted that there was no support for the amendment, and thus the original paragraph 5 was retained and adopted. With no objections to the adoption of the decision as a whole, the Chairperson declared adopted Decision 9.COM 9.a.7 to inscribe Male-child cleansing ceremony of the Lango of central northern Ugandaon the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding.
201.The delegation of Uganda thanked the Chairperson, the Secretary, the Consultative Body, and the Committee, extending its appreciation to the Secretariat for its support. The delegation remarked that this was one of the elements that received international preparatory assistance, which had helped Uganda learn a lot in terms of community involvement and how to improve the nomination file. It spoke of the country’s commitment towards ensuring the full participation of all the communities, and especially the children who were involved in some of the elements. It was committed to identifying, inventorying and safeguarding the intangible cultural heritage of its communities. The delegation took this opportunity to read a statement from the communities concerned, as a way of sharing their sentiments on hearing the favourable recommendation. The community of Lango is one of 65 communities in Uganda found in eight districts of Dokolo, Lira, Amolatar, Apac, Alebtong, Oyam, Otuke, and Kole. The communities – under the leadership of the chief of Lango – value the health of their people and children, both male and female, and hold the birth ceremonies of the children as paramount to the development of healthy productive clan members. The male-child cleansing ceremony unites families in the continuation of the family and clan lineage. The inscription of the element would thus help preserve this much-honoured tradition, which is at risk of disappearance with knowledge of the practice held only among the elderly women and men of Lango. It would also rekindle a love and pride of the Lango culture and the need for unity among the Lango people. On behalf of the community, the delegation thanked the Secretariat once again for the preparatory assistance provided, through the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development, that enabled the full and active participation of all the communities from the eight districts where the element is practised, including the clan leaders and the family members of Ngami village. It extended its appreciation to the Consultative Body for the time taken to understand the male-child cleansing ceremony of the Lango people of northern Uganda. The clan leaders and the community recognized that the cleansing ceremony is the culture of the Lango people and are committed to ensuring the continuity of the boy-child cleansing ceremony and the implementation of the safeguarding measures, and would work towards all the activities related with the safeguarding measures.
202.The Chairperson introduced the last of the nominations to the Urgent Safeguarding List. Once again, he was pleased to see that this nomination file from the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela had received a positive recommendation from the Consultative Body.
203.The Chairperson of the Consultative Body presented the fourth and last nomination on Mapoyo oral tradition and its symbolic reference points within their ancestral territory [draft decision 9.COM 9.a.8] submitted by the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. The oral tradition of the Mapoyo and its symbolic points of reference within the ancestral territory encompass a body of narratives that constitute the collective memory of the Mapoyo people. They are symbolically and permanently linked to a number of places along the Orinoco River in Venezuelan Guayana. Tradition bearers recount the narratives while carrying out their daily activities, reinforcing the self-identification of the community. During the evaluation, the Consultative Body considered that all the criteria were satisfied. Moreover, the Body appreciated the efforts of the State in safeguarding the living heritage of a small rural community under social and economic stress. The Body also found that the element provided an interesting example of the links between intangible cultural heritage and the environment. Under criterion U.1, the Body had a lengthy discussion on the role of community elders for different aspects of the enactment; the nomination described the changes that took place in the mode of transmission over time. Some Body members hesitated whether the information provided in other sections could be used to evaluate this criterion. As mentioned in the Rapporteur’s report, the Body wished to remind submitting States of the necessity to include relevant information in the correct sections of the form. In the end, the Body agreed that Mapoyo oral tradition continues to hold great social and cultural significance in the promotion of a shared identity and the cultural continuity of the Mapoyo community.
204.The Chairperson of the Consultative Body explained that the Body took some time to discuss generic threats compared to threats specific to an element, as some Body members questioned whether the threats indicated were specific enough to characterize the element’s current viability (U.2). The Body reiterated that a clear picture of the element’s viability was essential as the proposed safeguarding measures could only be evaluated with respect to the viability and risks identified. In the end, the Body concluded that the information provided in the nomination was adequate, outlining a number of severe threats affecting the element’s viability. These included the decreased use of Mapoyo language in favour of Spanish, inward migration, land encroachment caused by the mining industry, and infrastructure development. In response to these threats, a number of safeguarding measures (U.3) were proposed with a view to enhancing the visibility and transmission of the element, as well as to protect the environment in which the practices take place. The Body considered that the measures were well elaborated, albeit ambitious, and that the file clearly described the role of the community, academic institutions and national authorities. The plan included a coherent and realistic timetable and noted funding sources. The Body thought that the nomination adequately described the participation of members of the Mapoyo community and the Body could verify the evidence of their free, prior and informed consent (U.4). The Body was also satisfied that the proposed element had been included in the national inventory and the Cultural Heritage Registration System of Venezuela (U.5). The Body therefore recommended that Mapoyo oral tradition and its symbolic reference points within their ancestral territory be inscribed on the Urgent Safeguarding List. The draft decision commended the State for its efforts in safeguarding the heritage of a rural community in social and economic difficulty (paragraph 4). It also appreciated its attention to the relationship between heritage and nature (paragraph 5) and the element’s contribution to sustainable development (paragraph 6). Finally, it encouraged the State to ensure that the safeguarding measures respect customary restrictions on access to certain aspects of the element (paragraph 7).
205.The Chairperson proceeded to the adoption of the decision on a paragraph-by-paragraph basis. With no comments or objections, the Chairperson declared adopted Decision 9.COM 9.a.8 to inscribe Mapoyo oral tradition and its symbolic reference points within their ancestral territory on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding.
206.The delegation of Bolivarian Republic ofVenezuela was grateful for and proud of the decision taken by the Committee, which recognized the Mapoyo oral tradition and its symbolic reference points within their ancestral territory as an example that brought to the fore the relationship between nature and culture, the appropriate practice of interculturalism, and the respect for human rights in Venezuela. It was noted that the nomination file was submitted in 2013, in accordance with the national legacy plan, which saw the Mapoyo people being handed over title deeds to their land for which they had fought for centuries, as a sign of the country’s commitment to the provisions of its constitution. The delegation was convinced that this heritage required urgent safeguarding, adding that the people and the government together would deploy efforts to guarantee that the safeguarding measures proposed would consolidate its most precious element that was recognized as far back as 200 years or since national independence. The delegation wished to allow Ms Carolina Bastidas, the daughter of the eminent Mr Simon Bastidas, born in the village and representing the voice of the Mapoyo, to say a few words. Ms Carolina Bastidas began with a greeting in the Mapoya language to say ‘how are you?’ She spoke of the happiness of her community for the international recognition of the culture of her ancestors, and she turned to the ancestors and to their God to whom she offered thanks, as well as the Bolivarian government of Venezuela and, in particular, the Centre for Cultural Diversity at the Ministry of Culture, the Venezuelan delegation to UNESCO, and the Committee. She spoke of the community’s commitment of the Mapoyo people to continue its fight to preserve their culture.
207.The Chairperson congratulated the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, noting that the Committee had examined the last of the nominations of which three of the four elements had been inscribed. He thus returned to the overall draft decision 9.COM 9.a related to the nominations to the Urgent Safeguarding List in general, and not to any nomination in particular. The Chairperson reminded the Committee that it would later return to the draft decision 9.COM 9, adding that issues common to the different mechanisms would be treated at that time. Moreover, the draft decision 9.COM 9.a already covered a number of issues raised in the Body’s report. For example, the need for States parties to mobilize and integrate a wide range of stakeholders, including external actors in the cultural sector, when designing safeguarding measures (paragraph 9). With no comments or objections, the Chairperson proceeded with the adoption of the draft decision 9.COM 9.a on paragraph-by-paragraph basis, and paragraphs 1–7 were duly adopted.
208.The delegation of Belgium wished to include in paragraph 8 the reference to ‘groups and, where applicable, individuals’, and to delete ‘contours’ because it did not fit with ‘individuals’. In this way, there was a reference to groups and individuals and not only to communities, adding that it was important to maintain that difference between groups, communities and individuals, and to mention all three whenever possible.
209.The Chairperson noted that there was no objection to the amendment by Belgium, which was duly adopted. The Chairperson then continued with paragraphs 9–12, which were duly adopted. With no further comments or objections, the Chairperson declared Decision 9.COM 9.a adopted.